CN107048601B - Retaining assembly for an article of footwear - Google Patents

Retaining assembly for an article of footwear Download PDF

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Publication number
CN107048601B
CN107048601B CN201710374430.3A CN201710374430A CN107048601B CN 107048601 B CN107048601 B CN 107048601B CN 201710374430 A CN201710374430 A CN 201710374430A CN 107048601 B CN107048601 B CN 107048601B
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CN
China
Prior art keywords
article
assembly
footwear
side portion
printing
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Active
Application number
CN201710374430.3A
Other languages
Chinese (zh)
Other versions
CN107048601A (en
Inventor
托德·W·米勒
迈克·A·恰姆布林
伊莱·R·特洛克
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Nike Inc
Original Assignee
Nike Inc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US13/868,130 priority Critical
Priority to US13/868,130 priority patent/US9402445B2/en
Application filed by Nike Inc filed Critical Nike Inc
Priority to CN201480022440.5A priority patent/CN105142451B/en
Publication of CN107048601A publication Critical patent/CN107048601A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of CN107048601B publication Critical patent/CN107048601B/en
Active legal-status Critical Current
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43DMACHINES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT OR METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING OR REPAIRING FOOTWEAR
    • A43D95/00Shoe-finishing machines
    • A43D95/14Shoe-finishing machines incorporating marking, printing, or embossing apparatus
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B3/00Footwear characterised by the shape or the use
    • A43B3/0036Footwear characterised by the shape or the use characterised by a special shape or design
    • A43B3/0078Footwear characterised by the shape or the use characterised by a special shape or design provided with logos, letters, signatures or the like decoration
    • A43B3/0084Arrangement of flocked decoration on shoes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43DMACHINES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT OR METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING OR REPAIRING FOOTWEAR
    • A43D3/00Lasts
    • A43D3/02Lasts for making or repairing shoes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43DMACHINES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT OR METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING OR REPAIRING FOOTWEAR
    • A43D3/00Lasts
    • A43D3/02Lasts for making or repairing shoes
    • A43D3/025Longitudinally expansible lasts
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43DMACHINES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT OR METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING OR REPAIRING FOOTWEAR
    • A43D3/00Lasts
    • A43D3/04Pneumatic lasts; Elastic lasts
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43DMACHINES, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT OR METHODS FOR MANUFACTURING OR REPAIRING FOOTWEAR
    • A43D8/00Machines for cutting, ornamenting, marking or otherwise working up shoe part blanks
    • A43D8/16Ornamentation
    • A43D8/22Ornamentation by embossing or printing
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J3/00Typewriters or selective printing or marking mechanisms, e.g. ink-jet printers, thermal printers characterised by the purpose for which they are constructed
    • B41J3/407Typewriters or selective printing or marking mechanisms, e.g. ink-jet printers, thermal printers characterised by the purpose for which they are constructed for marking on special material
    • B41J3/4073Printing on three-dimensional objects not being in sheet or web form, e.g. spherical or cubic objects
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M5/00Duplicating or marking methods; Sheet materials for use therein
    • B41M5/0041Digital printing on surfaces other than ordinary paper

Abstract

The present application relates to a retaining assembly for an article of footwear. A retention assembly for an article may be used with a flexible manufacturing system to retain the article in place. The retention assembly may be used with a printing system to print onto an article. The retention assembly is expandable to fit the article. The retention assembly may include a moldable surface that may be provided with a temporarily fixed geometry by using a vacuum. The retention assembly may help provide a flattened outer surface to the article to facilitate printing.

Description

Retaining assembly for an article of footwear
This application is a divisional application of the application entitled "retaining Assembly for an article of footwear" having application date 2014, 04, 22, application number 201480022440.5.
RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is related to the following commonly owned co-pending applications: U.S. patent application publication No. 2014/0310892 entitled "Method of printing on to an Article", published on 23.10.2014, and U.S. patent application publication No. 2014/0310890 entitled "Holding Assembly with Locking Systems for Articles", published on 23.10.2014, which are all incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.
Technical Field
The present embodiments relate generally to articles of footwear, and more particularly, to flexible manufacturing systems for articles of footwear.
Background
Articles of footwear generally include two primary elements: an upper and a sole structure. The upper is generally formed from various material elements (e.g., textiles, polymer sheet layers, foam layers, leather, synthetic leather) that are stitched or adhesively bonded together to form a void on the interior of the footwear for comfortably and securely receiving a foot. More specifically, the upper forms a structure that extends over instep and toe areas of the foot, along medial and lateral sides of the foot, and around a heel area of the foot.
The sole structure is secured to a lower portion of the upper so as to be positioned between the foot and the ground. For example, in athletic footwear, the sole structure may include a midsole and an outsole, for example. The midsole may be formed from a polymer foam material that attenuates ground reaction forces (i.e., provides cushioning) during walking, running, and other ambulatory activities. For example, the midsole may also include fluid-filled chambers, plates, moderators, or other elements that further attenuate forces, enhance stability, or influence the motions of the foot. The outsole forms the ground-contacting element of footwear and is typically formed of a durable, wear-resistant rubber material that includes texturing to impart traction. The sole structure may also include a sockliner positioned within the upper and proximate to a lower surface of the foot to enhance footwear comfort.
The article may be manufactured in a variety of designs. Various types of graphics may be applied to an article using, for example, printing techniques.
SUMMARY
In one aspect, a retaining assembly configured to retain an article of footwear includes a base portion and a last portion attached to the base portion, wherein the last portion further includes: a first side portion comprising an outer surface, the outer surface being moldable; a second side portion; a bladder member disposed between the first side portion and the second side portion, wherein the bladder member is inflatable. Inflating the bladder member causes the second side portion to extend away from the first side portion.
In one embodiment, the second side portion pivots about the base portion when the bladder member expands.
In one embodiment, the first side portion remains fixed in position relative to the base portion when the bladder member is inflated.
In one embodiment, the first side portion comprises a frame portion, a flexible membrane, and a plurality of bead members, and wherein the plurality of bead members are sealed within an interior chamber defined by the frame portion and the flexible membrane.
In one embodiment, the internal chamber is configured to be in fluid communication with a vacuum pump.
In one embodiment, the outer surface is substantially deformable when no vacuum is applied to the inner chamber, and wherein the outer surface is substantially rigid when a vacuum is applied to the inner chamber.
In another aspect, a retaining assembly configured to retain an article of footwear includes a base portion and a last portion attached to the base portion. The last portion includes a first side portion and a second side portion, wherein the first side portion further includes: a frame portion; a flexible membrane mounted on the frame portion; and a plurality of bead members disposed in an interior chamber formed between the frame portion and the flexible membrane. The internal chamber is configured to be in fluid communication with a vacuum pump. The first side portion has a first configuration and a second configuration, the second configuration occurring when a vacuum is applied to the interior chamber of the first side portion. The rigidity of the outer surface of the first side portion increases from the first configuration to the second configuration. A spacing between the first side portion and the second side portion of the last portion is adjustable.
In one embodiment, the flexible membrane is taut against the plurality of bead members in the second configuration, and wherein the flexible membrane is loosely disposed on the plurality of bead members in the first configuration.
In one embodiment, the last portion includes a bladder member disposed between the first side portion and the second side portion.
In one embodiment, the bladder member is an adjustable pressure bladder.
In one embodiment, increasing the pressure of the bladder member serves to separate the first side portion from the second side portion and thereby increase the width of the last portion.
In one embodiment, the second side portion has a substantially rigid geometry.
In one embodiment, the bladder member pressure is actively increased and the internal chamber pressure is actively decreased while the retaining assembly is configured to retain the article of footwear.
In another aspect, a flexible manufacturing system for an article of footwear includes a printing system and a platform, wherein a relative position between the printing system and the platform may be changed. The system also includes a plurality of mounting arms associated with the platform, a holding assembly including a base portion and a last portion for holding an article of footwear, and a flattening plate removably attachable to the plurality of mounting arms. The platen applies a force to the holding assembly when the holding assembly is disposed on the platform.
In one embodiment, the platen is configured to apply a force to an article of footwear that can be disposed on the last portion of the retaining assembly.
In one embodiment, the last portion includes a first side portion, a second side portion, and a bladder member disposed between the first side portion and the second side portion.
In one embodiment, the bladder member is capable of being inflated to separate the first side portion from the second side portion.
In one embodiment, the first side portion includes a moldable outer surface.
In one embodiment, the shape of the moldable outer surface can be temporarily locked in place.
In one embodiment, the flattening plate can be used to flatten a portion of an article of footwear disposed between the flattening plate and the moldable outer surface of the last portion.
Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the embodiments will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description and this summary, be within the scope of the embodiments, and be protected by the following claims.
Brief Description of Drawings
The embodiments may be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the embodiments. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of various components of an embodiment of a flexible manufacturing system;
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a retention assembly;
FIG. 3 is a bottom-up isometric view of an embodiment of a retention assembly;
FIG. 4 is an exploded isometric view of an embodiment of a retention assembly;
FIG. 5 is a schematic side view of an embodiment of a holding assembly showing an arrangement for applying pressure and vacuum to portions of the holding assembly;
FIG. 6 is a schematic side view of an embodiment of the retaining assembly with the last portion in an unexpanded configuration;
FIG. 7 is a schematic side view of an embodiment of the retaining assembly with the last portion in an expanded configuration;
FIG. 8 is a schematic side view of an embodiment of a first side portion of a last portion;
FIG. 9 is a schematic side view of the first side portion of FIG. 8 with the outer surface changing shape in response to a deforming force;
FIG. 10 is a schematic side view of the first side portion of FIG. 9, wherein the shape of the outer surface is temporarily fixed using a vacuum;
FIG. 11 is a top down view of an embodiment of the article of footwear mounted to the retaining assembly with the adjustable heel assembly in a retracted position;
FIG. 12 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the article of FIG. 11;
FIG. 13 is a top down view of the embodiment of the article and retaining assembly of FIG. 11, with the adjustable heel assembly having been adjusted to contact the heel portion of the article;
FIG. 14 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the article of FIG. 13;
FIG. 15 is a top down view of the embodiment of the article and retaining assembly of FIG. 11, with the adjustable heel assembly having been adjusted to tension the heel portion of the article;
FIG. 16 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the article of FIG. 15;
FIG. 17 is a schematic isometric view of an embodiment of an article of footwear mounted to a retaining assembly with the lace locking member clearly seen on the base portion of the retaining assembly;
FIG. 18 is a schematic isometric view of the article of footwear and retaining assembly of FIG. 17, with the lace of the article of footwear tightened around the lace locking member;
FIG. 19 is a schematic view of an embodiment of an article of footwear and an associated retaining assembly positioned on a platform of a flexible manufacturing system;
FIG. 20 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a flexible manufacturing system in which a platen has been mounted to a plurality of mounting arms;
FIG. 21 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an embodiment of an article of footwear mounted to a last portion of a retaining assembly with a flattening plate pressing down on the article;
FIG. 22 is a top down schematic view of an embodiment of an article of footwear disposed below a flattening plate, with the contact area between the article of footwear and the flattening plate highlighted;
FIG. 23 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an embodiment of an article of footwear mounted to a last portion of a retaining assembly, where the last portion has been expanded and adjusted for position of the article of footwear;
FIG. 24 is a top down schematic view of an embodiment of an article of footwear disposed below a flattening plate, with the contact area between the article of footwear and the flattening plate highlighted;
fig. 25 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an embodiment of an article of footwear mounted to a last portion of a retaining assembly, wherein a vacuum has been applied to temporarily fix the geometry of the outer surface of the last portion;
fig. 26 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an embodiment of an article of footwear mounted to a last portion of a retaining assembly, wherein a vacuum has been applied to temporarily fix the geometry of the outer surface of the last portion;
FIG. 27 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a flattening plate removed from a plurality of mounting arms of a flexible manufacturing system;
FIG. 28 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a display device mounted to a plurality of mounting arms of a flexible manufacturing system;
FIG. 29 is a schematic view of a step in a process of aligning an article of footwear for printing using a display device, according to one embodiment;
FIG. 30 is a schematic view of a step in a process of aligning an article of footwear for printing using a display device, according to one embodiment;
FIG. 31 is a schematic illustration of a step in a process of preparing an article for printing, according to an embodiment;
FIG. 32 is a schematic isometric view of an embodiment of a printing system printed to an article of footwear;
FIG. 33 is a schematic front view (front view) of an embodiment of a printing system printing to an article of footwear;
FIG. 34 is a schematic view of various components of an embodiment of a flexible manufacturing system after graphics have been printed onto an article of footwear;
FIG. 35 is a schematic view of an embodiment of two respective retaining assemblies configured for use with opposite sides of an article of footwear;
FIG. 36 is a schematic view of a plurality of different shoe sizes that may be used with embodiments of the retaining assembly;
FIG. 37 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a flexible manufacturing system including a platen having a strap member;
FIG. 38 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an embodiment of a flattening plate having a strap member that depresses the sole structure;
FIG. 39 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a retaining assembly that may be temporarily secured to a platform using magnetic force; and
FIG. 40 is a schematic view of an embodiment of a holding assembly that may be temporarily secured to a platform using a vacuum table.
Detailed description of the invention
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of a flexible manufacturing system 100. In some embodiments, flexible manufacturing system 100 may be intended for use with a variety of articles including footwear and/or apparel. In particular, flexible manufacturing system 100 may include various types of arrangements for applying graphics or any type of design or image to footwear and/or apparel. Further, the process of applying the graphic may occur during the manufacture of the article and/or after the article has been manufactured. In some embodiments, the graphics may be applied to the article of footwear after the article of footwear has been manufactured into a three-dimensional form that includes an upper and a sole structure. In some embodiments, a flexible manufacturing system may be used at a retail location to apply user-selected graphics to an article of footwear and/or an article of apparel.
The term "graphic" as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims refers to any visual design element, including but not limited to: various types of photographs, logos, words, descriptions, lines, shapes, patterns, images, and any combination of these elements. Furthermore, the term graphic is not intended to be limiting and may encompass any number of visual features that are continuous or discontinuous. For example, in one embodiment, the graphic may include a logo that is applied to a small area of the article of footwear. In another embodiment, the graphics may include a color that is applied to a large area on one or more regions (including the entirety) of the article of footwear.
For clarity, the following detailed description discusses an exemplary embodiment in which flexible manufacturing system 100 is used to apply graphics to article of footwear 102. In this case, the article of footwear 102 (or simply, the article 102) may take the form of athletic footwear (e.g., running shoes). However, it should be noted that in other embodiments, flexible manufacturing system 100 may be used with any other type of footwear, including but not limited to: hiking boots, soccer shoes, football shoes, hiking shoes, soccer shoes, basketball shoes, baseball shoes, and other types of shoes. While fig. 1 shows a single article, it will be understood that flexible manufacturing system 100 may be used to apply graphics to two or more articles, including articles comprising a pair of footwear.
In some embodiments, article 102 may include upper 104 and sole structure 106. In general, upper 104 may be any type of upper. In particular, upper 104 may have any design, shape, size, and/or color. For example, in embodiments in which article 102 is a basketball shoe, upper 104 may be a high-top upper shaped to provide high support on the ankle. In embodiments where article 102 is a running shoe, upper 104 may be a low-top upper.
As seen in fig. 1, upper 104 generally has a contoured shape that approximates the shape of a foot. For example, lateral side portion 108 of upper 104 may be generally contoured, rather than being substantially flat. Moreover, it will be appreciated that the shape of lateral side portion 108, as well as any other portion of upper 104, may vary from one embodiment to another in any other manner. In particular, the principles described herein for applying graphics to an article of footwear are not limited to articles having any predetermined geometry and/or shape.
In some embodiments, upper 104 may be configured with one or more design elements. For example, upper 104 may include design elements 110 disposed on lateral side portion 108. In the current embodiment, design element 110 takes the form of an oval-like design on upper 104. However, in other embodiments, design element 110 may be configured as any type of indicia, graphics, or other design feature. Examples of various design elements that may be incorporated into upper 104 include, but are not limited to: logos, numbers, letters, various kinds of graphics, decorative elements, and other kinds of design elements. Further, in some embodiments, the design elements may be applied to upper 104 using ink, for example using a printer. In other embodiments, the design elements may include separate layers of material that are attached to a base layer of upper 104.
The flexible manufacturing system 100 need not be limited to use with an article of footwear, and the principles taught throughout this detailed description may also be applied to additional articles. Examples of articles that may be used with the flexible manufacturing system include, but are not limited to: footwear, gloves, shirts, pants, socks, wraps, hats, jackets, and other items. Other examples of articles include, but are not limited to: shin guards, knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and any other type of protective and/or athletic equipment. Further, in some embodiments, the article may be another type of article, including but not limited to: balls, bags, handbags, backpacks, and other items that cannot be worn.
The flexible manufacturing system 100 may include a variety of arrangements for applying graphics directly to an article. In some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system 100 may include a printing system 120. Printing system 120 may include one or more individual printers. Although a single printer is illustrated in fig. 1, other embodiments may include two or more printers that may be networked together.
Printing system 120 may utilize various types of printing techniques. These may include, but are not limited to: toner-based printing, liquid inkjet printing, solid ink printing, dye sublimation printing, inkless printing (including thermal printing and UV printing), MEMS jet printing technology (MEMS jet printing technology), and any other printing method. In some embodiments, printing system 120 may utilize a combination of two or more different printing techniques. The type of printing technique used may vary depending on factors including, but not limited to: the material of the target item, the size and/or geometry of the target item, the desired properties of the printed image (e.g., durability, color, ink density, etc.), and the printing speed, printing cost, and maintenance requirements.
In one embodiment, printing system 120 may utilize an inkjet printer, wherein ink droplets may be ejected onto a substrate, such as the medial or lateral side panel of the formed upper. The use of an ink jet printer allows for easy changes in color and ink density. This arrangement also allows for some separation between the printer head and the target object, which may facilitate printing directly onto an object having a certain curvature and/or surface texture.
The flexible manufacturing system 100 may include provisions for facilitating alignment of printed graphics onto the article 102. In some embodiments, it may be useful to provide a way for a user to align an article with a printing system in order to ensure that graphics are printed in a desired portion (i.e., location) of the article. In particular, in some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system 100 may include provisions for pre-aligning items with a printer in a manner such that various types, shapes, and sizes of items are accommodated.
Referring to FIG. 1, some embodiments of a flexible manufacturing system 100 may include provisions that help facilitate alignment of graphics on an article. Examples of alignment systems that can be used to ensure that graphics are printed onto desired portions (or locations) of an article are disclosed in the following patent applications: U.S. patent application publication No. 2014/0026773 to Miller (referred to herein as the "Alignment and printing case") and U.S. patent application 8,978,551 to Miller (referred to herein as the "Printer Alignment case Using Remote Device") entitled "Projection Assisted Alignment Using Remote Device", both of which are published on 30/1/2014 and entitled "Projector Assisted Alignment and printing", are both incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
In one embodiment, flexible manufacturing system 100 may include a base portion 130 and a platform 140. Base portion 130 may include a substantially planar surface for mounting one or more components of flexible manufacturing system 100. In some embodiments, for example, the base portion 130 may be a table top. In some embodiments, the platform 140 is disposed on the base portion 130. In some embodiments, platform 140 includes a surface accessible to printing system 120. In particular, items placed on the platform 140 may be printed using the printing system 120.
In some embodiments, the printing system 120 may be mounted to the rails 150 of the base portion 130. In some embodiments, printing system 120 is movably mounted to base portion 130 such that printing system 120 is able to slide along rails 150. This allows the printing system 120 to move between a first position, in which the printing system 120 is disposed away from the platform 140 (as shown in fig. 1), and a second position; in the second position, the printing system 120 is disposed on the platform 140 (see fig. 32). With this arrangement, alignment of the graphic on the article may be performed when the printing system 120 is in the first position or the non-use position. Once the pattern alignment has been completed, the printing system 120 may be moved to a second position or use position. In this use position, the printing system 120 may be disposed directly on the platform 140 and may be configured to print graphics onto an article disposed on the platform 140.
While the current embodiment illustrates a configuration in which printing system 120 moves relative to base portion 130 while platform 140 remains stationary, other embodiments may include any other method for moving printing system 120 and platform 140 relative to each other. By way of example, other embodiments may utilize a transport system in which the platform may be moved to various locations, including a location below the printing system 120. Examples of such a transport system are disclosed in the alignment and printing cases discussed above.
In some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system 100 may further include one or more mounting arms to facilitate preparing the article for printing, as discussed in more detail below. In some embodiments, flexible manufacturing system 100 may include a plurality of mounting arms 160, where mounting arms 160 include a first mounting arm 161, a second mounting arm 162, a third mounting arm 163, and a fourth mounting arm 164. While the current embodiment illustrates four mounting arms for attaching and supporting various components of a flexible manufacturing system, other embodiments may include any other number of mounting arms and any other kind of mounting structure.
Provisions may also be included for aligning the article to ensure that the graphics are printed on the desired areas of the article. One method of alignment using a display device such as a transparent LCD screen is discussed below and shown in fig. 28-30. Additional examples of methods of aligning an article to receive a graphic in a desired area are disclosed in the alignment and printing cases.
Some embodiments may include provisions to help hold the article in place to facilitate alignment and printing of the graphics onto the article. For example, in some embodiments, a flexible manufacturing system may include a retention assembly that may include a bracket, clamp (fixture), or similar type of device capable of holding an item in a predetermined position and/or orientation. In one embodiment, a flexible manufacturing system includes a retaining assembly that acts as a jig for an article of footwear by holding the article in place during a printing process. Additionally, as described below, the retaining assembly may also include provisions for preparing a portion of the article for printing, such as provisions for flattening one or more portions of the article of footwear.
In some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system 100 may include a holding assembly 200. Retaining assembly 200 may also include a base portion 202 and a last portion 220 of the retaining assembly. Base portion 202 of the retaining assembly may provide support for last portion 220 such that last portion 220 may retain an article in a predetermined position and/or orientation. Details of retention assembly 200 are discussed in more detail below.
In some implementations, the flexible manufacturing system 100 can include a computing system 101. The term "computing system" refers to the computing resources of a single computer, a portion of the computing resources of a single computer, and/or two or more computers in communication with each other. Any of these resources may be operated by one or more users. In some embodiments, computing system 101 may include a user input device 105 that allows a user to interact with computing system 101. Likewise, computing system 101 may include display 103. In some implementations, computing system 101 may include additional provisions, such as a data storage device (not shown). The data storage device may include a variety of means for storing data, including but not limited to magnetic, optical, magneto-optical, and/or memory, including non-persistent and persistent memory. These settings for computing system 101, as well as possibly other settings not shown or described herein, allow computing system 101 to communicate with and/or control various components of flexible manufacturing system 100. For example, computing system 101 may be used to: generate and/or manipulate graphics, control the printing system 120, control components of the alignment system (e.g., an LCD screen), and possibly control systems associated with the holding assembly 200.
To facilitate communication between the various components of the flexible manufacturing system 100, including the computing system 101, the printing system 120, the holding assembly 200, and possibly other components, the components may be connected using some sort of network. Examples of networks include, but are not limited to: a Local Area Network (LAN), a network using the bluetooth protocol, a packet-switched network (e.g., the internet), various kinds of wired networks, and any other kind of wireless network. In other embodiments, rather than utilizing an external network, one or more components (i.e., printing system 120) may be connected directly to computing system 101, for example, as peripheral hardware devices.
In operation, article 102 may be placed onto last portion 220 of holding assembly 200. In some embodiments, the item 102 may be aligned at a predetermined location on the platform 140 using, for example, an LCD screen in communication with the computing system 101. Finally, graphics may be printed onto a portion of the article 102 using the printing system 120. Details of this operation are discussed in more detail below.
Fig. 2-4 illustrate various views of an embodiment of a retention assembly 200. In particular, fig. 2 illustrates a front isometric view of retention assembly 200, fig. 3 illustrates a bottom-up isometric view of retention assembly 200, and fig. 4 illustrates an exploded isometric view of retention assembly 200. Referring to fig. 2-4, the base portion 202 of the retention assembly may include a body portion 204, a first leg portion 206, and a second leg portion 208. The body portion 204 includes a generally upright, approximately rectangular portion. Body portion 204 may be supported by first leg portion 206 and second leg portion 208. Additionally, base portion 202 of the retaining assembly may include a front mounting portion 210, with front mounting portion 210 connecting last portion 220 with body portion 204.
As best seen in fig. 4, in some embodiments, the body portion 204 and the front mounting portion 210 may be substantially perpendicular. In particular, the first longitudinal axis 217 of the body portion 204 may be substantially perpendicular to the second longitudinal axis 219 of the front mounting portion 210. In other embodiments, the first longitudinal axis 217 and the second longitudinal axis 219 may form any other angle.
In some embodiments, last portion 220 includes various components that receive the article and help control the position, orientation, and geometry of the upper. In some embodiments, last portion 220 may include a first side portion 222 and a second side portion 224. Additionally, last portion 220 may include a bladder member 226, and bladder member 226 may be disposed between first side portion 222 and second side portion 224.
In some embodiments, the first side portion 222 may include a frame portion 230, the frame portion 230 including an outer sidewall portion 232 and a separation portion 234. In some cases, separation portion 234 may separate an upper recess 236 of frame portion 230 from a lower recess 238 of frame portion 230 (see fig. 21). The upper recess 236 may be sealed using a flexible membrane 240 to form an interior chamber 246 (see fig. 21). In some embodiments, the flexible membrane 240 may be mounted to the upper edge 233 of the outer sidewall portion 232 using a gasket member 242. The washer member 242 may be further fastened to the frame member 230 at the upper edge 233 using any type of fastener known in the art.
In some embodiments, the interior chamber 246 formed between the separation portion 234 of the frame portion 230 and the flexible membrane 240 may be filled with one or more materials. In some embodiments, interior chamber 246 can be filled with a plurality of bead members 250. The term "bead member" as used throughout this detailed description and in the claims refers to any beaded object having a generally dome shape. In particular, while some embodiments may include spherical beads, in other embodiments, the bead members may be non-spherical and may have, for example, an elliptical shape.
When assembled together, flexible membrane 240 and plurality of bead members 250 provide a substantially flexible and/or moldable outer surface for first side portion 222 of last portion 220. In particular, when the flexible membrane 240 is depressed at various locations and the plurality of bead members 250 are rearranged within the resulting volume formed between the flexible membrane 240 and the frame portion 230, the outer surface 260 of the first side portion 222 may take a variety of different shapes. This configuration may allow outer surface 260 to deform in response to forces exerted by an article placed on last portion 220.
In some embodiments, the second side portion 224 may include a substrate 270. In some embodiments, the substrate 270 may also include a raised central portion 272. Further, in some embodiments, the contoured member 274 may be attached to the substrate 270. In particular, the contoured member 274 may be attached to the exterior side of the substrate 270 such that the contoured member 274 is exposed outwardly on the second side portion 224.
In contrast with first side portion 222, which has a substantially flexible and deformable outer surface on last portion 220, second side portion 224 may have a substantially rigid outer surface. In some embodiments, for example, contour member 274 may be a substantially rigid material that deflects and/or deforms slightly in response to forces that may be applied by an article placed on last portion 220.
In some embodiments, the attachment between the first side portion 222 and the second side portion 224 may be facilitated in part by the bladder member 226. In one embodiment, the bladder member 226 includes a first face 280 attached to the frame portion 230 of the first side portion 222. In some cases, the first face 280 is attached to the separation portion 234 within the lower recess 238 (see fig. 21) such that a portion of the bladder member 226 may be disposed within the first side portion 222. In addition, the bladder member 226 may include a second face 282 attached to the central portion 272 of the base plate 270. With this arrangement, when the bladder member 226 expands, this may cause the first and second side portions 222, 224 to separate from one another.
In some embodiments, the first side portion 222 and the second side portion 224 can be further connected to each other in an area adjacent the front mounting portion 210 of the base portion 202 of the retention assembly. For example, in some embodiments, the first side portion 222 may be fixed in position relative to the mounting portion 210 and the second side portion 224 may pivot about the front mounting portion 210. In particular, in some embodiments, the second side portion 224 may be attached to the front mounting portion 210 in a hinged connection. However, in other embodiments, the first side portion 222 may be fixed in position relative to the front mounting portion 210, but the second side portion 224 may not be directly attached to the front mounting portion 210. Conversely, in some embodiments, the second side portion 224 may be attached to the first side portion 222 only by the bladder member 226.
The materials used for the various components and elements of last portion 220 may vary depending on a number of factors, including manufacturing costs, desired material properties, and possibly other factors. As an example, the material used for the flexible membrane 240 may be different in different embodiments. Examples of flexible materials that may be used include, but are not limited to: flexible textiles, natural rubber, synthetic rubber, silicone, elastomers, other elastomers such as silicone rubber, and other materials known in the art. As another example, the material used for the plurality of bead members 250 may vary from one embodiment to another. Examples of materials that may be used for the bead members include, but are not limited to: plastic beads, silicone beads, metal beads (including, for example, ball bearings), and other types of materials known in the art. In addition, the materials used for the frame portion of the last portion and the various plates may differ. Examples of materials that may be used for the frame portions and/or panels include, but are not limited to: metals or metal alloys such as aluminum, plastics, and any other type of material known in the art.
In different embodiments, the material used for the bladder member 226 may be different. In some embodiments, the bladder member 226 may comprise a rigid to semi-rigid material. In other embodiments, the bladder member 226 may comprise a substantially flexible material. In some embodiments, the bladder member 226 may be constructed of a generally flexible and resilient material configured to deform under the influence of fluid forces. In some cases, the bladder member 226 may be constructed of a plastic material. Examples of plastic materials that may be used include high density polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, thermoplastic materials, elastomeric materials, and any other type of plastic material, including combinations of various materials. In embodiments in which thermoplastic polymers are used for the bladder, a variety of thermoplastic polymer materials may be used for the bladder, including polyurethane, polyester polyurethane, and polyether polyurethane. Another suitable material for the bladder is a film formed from alternating layers of thermoplastic polyurethane and ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer, as disclosed in U.S. patent nos. 5,713,141 and 5,952,065 to Mitchell et al, which are incorporated herein by reference. The bladder may also be formed of a flexible microlayer film that includes alternating layers of a gas barrier material and an elastomeric material, as disclosed in U.S. patent nos. 6,082,025 and 6,127,026 to Bonk et al, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference. In addition, a variety of thermoplastic urethanes can be used, such as PELLETHANE, a product of Dow chemical company (Dow chemical company); ELASTOLLAN, a product of BASF Corporation; and the product ESTANE of the company goodrich, b.f., all of which are ester-based or ether-based. Other thermoplastic urethanes based on polyesters, polyethers, polycaprolactones, and polycarbonate macrogels may be used, and various nitrogen blocking materials may also be utilized. Additional suitable materials are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,183,156 and 4,219,945 to Rudy, which are hereby incorporated by reference. Additional suitable materials include thermoplastic films comprising crystalline materials, such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,936,029 and 5,042,176 to Rudy, hereby incorporated by reference, and polyurethanes comprising polyester polyols, such as 6,013340 to Bonk et al, also hereby incorporated by reference; nos. 6,203,868; and 6,321,465, to U.S. patent. In one embodiment, the bladder member 226 may include one or more layers of thermoplastic urethane (TPU).
Retaining assembly 200 may also include additional features for holding an article in place on last portion 220. In some embodiments, retaining assembly 200 may include an adjustable heel assembly 290. Adjustable heel assembly 290 may be used to accommodate a variety of different footwear sizes.
In some embodiments, adjustable heel assembly 290 may also include body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly. The adjustable heel assembly body portion 292 may be adjustably connected to the forward mounting portion 210 via a rod 294. In particular, the rod 294 may extend outwardly from the front mounting portion 210 and may be received by the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly. In some embodiments, the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly is permanently fixed in position relative to the shaft 294. In such embodiments, the position of the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly relative to the forward mounting portion 210 may be adjusted by sliding the rod 294 to various positions within the receiving cavity 211 of the forward mounting portion 210. In other embodiments, the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly may be configured to translate relative to the rod 294. In such embodiments, the position of the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly relative to the front mounting portion 210 may be adjusted by sliding the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly along the length of the rod 294.
The adjustable heel assembly 290 may include a heel engaging portion 296 extending from the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly. In some embodiments, heel engaging portion 296 may extend in a direction that is substantially perpendicular to the direction in which body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly translates relative to front mounting portion 210. In some embodiments, the position and orientation of the heel engaging portion 296 may be substantially fixed relative to the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly. With this arrangement, the heel engaging portion 296 may be configured to translate with the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly. Furthermore, as discussed in more detail below, this arrangement allows the position of heel engaging portion 296 to be adjusted relative to the rear edge of last portion 220.
In some embodiments, the heel engaging portion 296 may have a shape that generally approximates the shape of a heel. This may allow heel engaging portion 296 to accommodate the corresponding geometry of the heel region of the upper. However, in other embodiments, heel engaging portion 296 may have any other geometry.
In some embodiments, the handle 298 may provide a joystick for translating the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly. When adjustable heel assembly 290 has been adjusted to a desired position, handle 298 may be rotated to lock adjustable heel assembly 290 in place. A variety of methods of locking the position of adjustable heel assembly 290 in place using handle 298 may be used. For example, in some embodiments, the handle 298 may include a cam-like feature that creates a friction force to prevent the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly from translating relative to the rod 294 when the handle 298 is in the locked position. However, it will be appreciated that any other method for locking the position of the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly may be used in other embodiments. Further details regarding the operation of adjustable heel assembly 290 are discussed in more detail below.
In some embodiments, retaining assembly 200 may include provisions that help secure the article in place and prevent the article from moving around on last portion 220. In some embodiments, retaining assembly 200 may include lace locking member 275. Lace locking member 275 may extend outward from body portion 204. In some cases, lace locking member 275 includes a first catch portion 277 and a second catch portion 279. Furthermore, in some embodiments, lace locking members 275 may be disposed on a side of retaining assembly 200 associated with the toe region of last portion 220 such that a lace of an item may be easily pulled taut between the item and lace locking members 275. As discussed in more detail below, lace locking member 275 may be configured to receive a lace of an article that may be wrapped around lace locking member 275 to help hold the article in tension.
Some embodiments may include provisions to facilitate the flow of fluid into and out of the various components of retention assembly 200. In particular, some embodiments may include provisions to control the pressure of the bladder member 226. Also, some embodiments may include provisions to control the pressure within interior chamber 246 (which is sealed between flexible membrane 240 and frame member 230). Such an arrangement may facilitate expansion (and possible contraction) of the bladder member 226 and contraction of the interior chamber 246 (e.g., by creating a vacuum within the interior chamber 246).
Fig. 5 illustrates a schematic side view of an embodiment of holding assembly 200, with some components of adjustable pressure system 500 shown in solid lines and other components of holding assembly 200 shown in dashed lines. The components of retention assembly 200 are schematically illustrated for clarity.
Referring to FIG. 5, an adjustable pressure system 500 includes a bladder member 226 and an interior chamber 246 (the location of interior chamber 246 is schematically represented in FIG. 5), the interior chamber 246 being defined by a flexible membrane 240 and a frame portion 230. Additionally, adjustable pressure system 500 may include provisions for facilitating fluid communication between bladder member 226 and first external fluid pump 520, and between interior chamber 246 and second external fluid pump 522.
In some embodiments, first external fluid pump 520 is a pump configured to fill bladder member 226 with a fluid. In other words, in some embodiments, first external fluid pump 520 may be operated to increase the fluid pressure within bladder member 226, which may cause bladder member 226 to expand. In some embodiments, the first external fluid pump 520 may also be configured to operate in the following manner: fluid is drawn from the bladder member 226, thereby reducing the internal pressure within the bladder member 226. This mode of operation will allow the bladder member 226 to be automatically deflated.
In some embodiments, the second external fluid pump 522 is a vacuum pump configured to draw fluid from the interior chamber 246. In particular, the second external fluid pump 522 may be used to significantly reduce the fluid pressure in the interior chamber 246, which may tighten the flexible membrane 240 against the plurality of beads 250 (as shown, for example, in fig. 25). This may result in a substantially rigid arrangement for the outer surface 260 of the first side portion 222.
Adjustable pressure system 500 may include provisions for transferring fluid between first external fluid pump 520 and bladder member 226, and between second external fluid pump 522 and interior chamber 246. In some embodiments, a tube 530 may connect the second external fluid pump 522 with the internal chamber 246. In particular, tube 530 may be connected to fluid port 540 of inner chamber 246. In some embodiments, the tube 532 may connect the first external fluid pump 520 with the interior chamber 550 of the bladder member 226. In particular, the tube 532 may be connected to the fluid port 542 of the inner chamber 550.
For purposes of illustration, some components of adjustable pressure system 500 are schematically illustrated in the figures. In different embodiments, various configurations of fluid pumps, fluid lines (i.e., tubes or hoses), fluid ports, and other fluid transfer arrangements may be used. In some embodiments, the tubes 530 and 532 may extend along the rear side of the base portion 202 of the retention assembly and may pass through an opening below the front mounting portion 210. In other embodiments, any other arrangement of tubes 530 and/or 532 within base portion 202 and/or last portion 220 of the retaining assembly may be used. In other embodiments, one or more fluid valves may be used to control the amount and/or direction of fluid between the fluid pump and the components of the holding assembly 200.
The operation of the first external fluid pump 520 and the second external fluid pump 522 may be manual or automatic. As an example, in one embodiment, a user may control the first external fluid pump 520 and/or the second external fluid pump 522 using manual controls at each pump. As another example, in some embodiments, first external fluid pump 520 and/or second external fluid pump 522 may be automatically controlled using computing system 101 or any other automated system in communication with first external fluid pump 520 and/or second external fluid pump 522.
Thus, with this arrangement, it can be seen that the pressure of bladder member 226 can be actively increased and at the same time the pressure of interior chamber 246 can be actively decreased. More specifically, the pressure of bladder member 226 may be increased to inflate last portion 220 while the pressure of interior chamber 246 is simultaneously decreased (i.e., a vacuum is applied) in order to evacuate interior chamber 246 of fluid and temporarily fix the geometry of first side portion 222. Further details of these operations are discussed in detail below.
For illustrative purposes, some of the settings of adjustable pressure system 500 may not be shown in some of the figures. However, it will be understood that the following embodiments may all include one or more of the features of the adjustable pressure system 500 described herein and schematically represented in fig. 5.
Fig. 6-7 illustrate schematic side views of the operation of last portion 220 when bladder member 226 is filled with a fluid. In the low pressure or deflated configuration of the bladder member 226 shown in fig. 6, the second side portion 224 may be disposed directly adjacent the first side portion 222. Further, in this low pressure configuration, the second side portion 224 may be approximately parallel to the first side portion 222. However, in the pressurized or inflated configuration of the bladder member 226 shown in fig. 7, the second side portion 224 may be separate from the first side portion 222. More specifically, in some embodiments, the second side portion 224 slopes away from the first side portion 222 at an angle. In some embodiments, second side portion 224 may pivot substantially about a forward-most portion 209 of forward mounting portion 210, where forward-most portion 209 is where last portion 220 joins forward mounting portion 210.
This arrangement allows the width of last portion 220 to vary according to the pressure of bladder member 226. In addition, once the article has been placed on last portion 220, inflating bladder member 226 may cause last portion 220 to expand to fill the interior of the article, which may help maintain the article mounted on last portion 220.
As previously discussed, the first side portion 222 may include a moldable or flexible outer surface that may deform in response to an applied pressure or force. Further, the rigidity of the first side portion 222 may be varied by using vacuum pressure.
Fig. 8-10 illustrate schematic side views of embodiments of first side portion 222 of last portion 220 in an isolated state. In the configuration shown in fig. 8, the first side portion 222 presents a substantially flexible outer surface at the flexible membrane 240. As seen in fig. 9, when a force 900 is applied to the flexible membrane 240, the flexible membrane 240 deforms in a manner that creates a recess 902. Referring next to fig. 10, by creating a vacuum within the interior chamber 246 of the first side portion 222, the flexible membrane 240 is pulled taut against the plurality of beads 250 (see fig. 25). This results in a substantially rigid outer surface 930 for the first side portion 222. With this arrangement, the profile or geometry of the first side portion 222 may be varied by subjecting the first side portion 222 to various pressures and/or forces.
Fig. 11-34 illustrate schematic views of an embodiment of a method for printing graphics onto an article of footwear. In particular, fig. 11-18 illustrate an exemplary process for securing an article of footwear to a retaining assembly, fig. 19-31 illustrate an exemplary process for preparing an article of footwear for printing, and fig. 32-34 illustrate an exemplary process for printing onto an article.
Fig. 11-16 illustrate schematic top-down views of embodiments of an article 102 disposed on a retention assembly 200. In particular, fig. 11-16 illustrate an exemplary process for adjusting the position of adjustable heel assembly 290 to help secure article 102 to last portion 220.
As seen in fig. 11-16, heel engaging portion 296 may generally extend in a direction approximately parallel to rear edge 291 of last portion 220. Accordingly, the position of the heel engaging portion 296 may be adjusted to accommodate a variety of different sizes of footwear. In other words, the distance between heel engaging portion 296 and front portion 223 of last portion 220 may be varied to accommodate different footwear sizes.
First, as shown in fig. 11 and 12, adjustable heel assembly 290 may be in a first position 1100, in which first position 1100 adjustable heel assembly 290 is fully retracted toward forward mounting portion 210. With adjustable heel assembly 290 in first position 1100, upper 104 may be easily placed on last portion 220 (or removed from last portion 220) because both last portion 220 and adjustable heel assembly 290 may be easily inserted into opening 1102 of upper 104. As seen in fig. 12, heel engaging portion 296 may be spaced internally from heel portion 1110 of upper 104.
In fig. 13 and 14, adjustable heel assembly 290 has been adjusted to second position 1300. In some embodiments, this may be accomplished by the user pulling on a handle 298 (shown in phantom below body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly) to slide adjustable heel assembly 290 away from mounting portion 210. Further, in second position 1300, heel engaging portion 296 may be disposed against heel portion 1110 of upper 104.
In some embodiments, it may be desirable to use adjustable heel assembly 290 to place upper 104 in tension. Referring now to fig. 15 and 16, adjustable heel assembly 290 may be adjusted to a third position 1500. In third position 1500, heel engaging portion 296 may further stretch heel portion 1110 outward such that upper 104 is substantially tensioned between heel engaging portion 296 and toe 1112 of upper 104.
In some embodiments, the position of adjustable heel assembly 290 may be locked to prevent adjustable heel assembly 290 from retracting under the force of heel portion 1110 of upper 104. As previously discussed, in some embodiments, the position of adjustable heel assembly 290 may be locked by adjusting handle 298. As seen in the present example shown in fig. 11-14, the handle 298 may be disposed in an unlocked position (below the body portion 292 of the adjustable heel assembly in these views) such that the position of the adjustable heel assembly 290 may be changed. In addition, when the desired position is reached, the user may rotate the handle 298 to the position illustrated in fig. 15 and 16, thereby locking the adjustable heel assembly 290 in place.
Once adjustable heel assembly 290 has been adjusted to fit upper 104, the user may use lace locking member 275 to tighten the lace of article 102.
Fig. 17 and 18 illustrate schematic isometric views of the article 102 in configurations before and after the lace 1702 has been tensioned using the lace locking members 275. As previously discussed, lace locking member 275 may extend outwardly from body portion 204 of retaining assembly 200. In particular, the central portion 276 may extend outwardly from the body portion 204. The first and second capturing portions 277 and 279 can extend from the central portion 276 such that the first and second capturing portions 277 and 279 are spaced apart from the body portion 204. This arrangement may allow portions of the lace to wrap around central portion 276 such that the lace is disposed between first and second capture portions 277 and 279 and body portion 204.
Referring to fig. 17, lace 1702 may be in a loosened position after article 102 is installed on last portion 220. Referring next to fig. 18, the user may wrap lace 1702 around first capture portion 277 and second capture portion 279 to apply tension to upper 104. In some embodiments, lace 1702 may be first tightened before being wound onto lace locking member 275. With this arrangement, lace 1702 may be used to apply tension to upper 104 along first side 1802 of retaining assembly 200 while adjustable heel assembly 290 applies tension along second side 1804 of retaining assembly 200. These tensioning forces may help maintain upper 104 locked to last portion 220.
Referring now to fig. 19, to prepare article 102 for printing, holding assembly 200 may be placed on platform 140. In general, retention assembly 200 may be placed on any portion of platform 140 and may be oriented in any direction. In some embodiments, retaining assembly 200 may be positioned and oriented to ensure that a print head of printing system 120 may be positioned on a desired portion of upper 104. In some embodiments, flexible manufacturing system 100 may include provisions for securing holding assembly 200 to platform 140 in a desired position and/or in a desired orientation. Such an arrangement is discussed in more detail below and is shown in fig. 39-40.
Embodiments may include provisions to facilitate flattening portions of the article to improve print quality. In some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system may include a flattening plate that may be used to press the article on the retaining assembly such that portions of the upper are deformed and temporarily flattened. In some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system may include additional provisions to ensure that the flattening plate may contact the desired portion of the upper to be flattened.
Fig. 20 illustrates an embodiment of a flexible manufacturing system 100 utilizing a platen 2000 to apply pressure on a portion of an article 102. In some embodiments, the platen plate 2000 may be mounted to a plurality of mounting arms 160. With this arrangement, the platen 2000 may be positioned over the holding assembly 200 and the article 102 disposed on the platform 140. In some embodiments, the flattening plate 2000 may be fastened to one or more of the plurality of mounting arms 160 using any type of fastener known in the art. However, in other embodiments, the platen plate 2000 may be manually held in place by a user. In other embodiments, the weight of the platen 2000 may be sufficient to maintain the platen 2000 resting on the plurality of mounting arms 160.
In some embodiments, the platen 2000 may comprise a substantially rigid material. In some embodiments, the platen 2000 may comprise a sheet of plexiglas material. In other embodiments, the platen 2000 may be made of any other material including, but not limited to: a polymer material, a metal material, wood, a composite material, a glass material, or any other kind of material that may be sufficiently rigid to press down on the retention assembly 200 and the article 102 without substantial deformation, bending, buckling, or otherwise damaging.
In some embodiments, the thickness of the platen 2000 may range between 0.01 inches and 2 inches. In other embodiments, the thickness of the platen 2000 may range between 1 inch and 5 inches. In other embodiments, the platen plate 2000 may have any other thickness.
Fig. 21 illustrates a cross-sectional view of portions of holding assembly 200, article 102, and platen 2000. As seen in fig. 21, where the side portions of article 102 are oriented in a direction generally parallel to first side portion 222 and second side portion 224, sole structure 106 may generally interfere with the ability of flattening plate 2000 to apply pressure directly to upper 104. Rather, in this initial configuration, the primary contact between the platen 2000 and the article 102 may occur along the side wall 2102 of the sole structure 106. This contact area between the article 102 and the platen 2000 can also be seen in fig. 22, which shows a top-down view of the article 102 passing through the platen 2000 (which is transparent in this embodiment). In particular, in fig. 22, the contact region 2202 is highlighted.
To facilitate better contact between flattening plate 2000 and upper 104, retaining assembly 200 may include provisions for changing the position and/or orientation of upper 104 on last portion 220. In some embodiments, when bladder member 226 expands, second side portion 224 may push against upper 104 and thereby change the orientation of article 102 on last portion 220. Referring to fig. 23, the bladder member 226 has been inflated and expanded, which may tend to push the first and second side portions 222, 224 apart. More specifically, the second side portion 224 rotates away from the first side portion 222. As second side portion 224 is rotated, last portion 220 may expand to fill interior cavity 2320 of upper 104. In addition, second side portion 224 may contact medial side portion 2332 of upper 104. As second side portion 224 continues to press against medial side portion 2332, upper 104 may tend to rotate slightly on last portion 220. In particular, lateral side portion 108 of upper 104 may slide farther away from base portion 202 of the retaining assembly.
As seen in fig. 23, the position of sole structure 106 may also be adjusted as last portion 220 is expanded. In some embodiments, the position of sole structure 106 may be inclined downward or away from applanation plate 2000. In this inclined position, sole structure 106 may be spaced apart from applanation plate 2000. Thus, the expansion of last portion 220 helps reposition article 102 on last portion 220 such that sole structure 106 is no longer in contact with flattening sheet 2000 and lateral side portion 108 of upper 104 is in direct contact with flattening sheet 2000. This arrangement allows the flattening plate 2000 to provide a substantially uniform pressure throughout the area of the outer side surface portion 108 that is in contact with the flattening plate 2000, thereby promoting flattening of the desired area.
The area of contact between the article 102 and the platen 2000 is also seen in fig. 24, with fig. 22 showing a top-down view of the article 102 passing over the platen 2000 (which is transparent in this embodiment). In particular, in fig. 24, contact region 2402 is highlighted. As can be seen by comparing fig. 22 and 24, adjusting the orientation of article 102 on last portion 220 helps provide a substantially greater contact area between flattening plate 2000 and lateral side portion 108 of upper 104.
As seen in fig. 23, first side portion 222 includes a flexible outer surface 2350 that forms a substantially flat surface when flattening plate 2000 presses down on lateral side wall 108 of upper 104. At this stage in the process of preparing the article 102 for printing, a vacuum may be introduced into the first side portion 222 so that the flattened shape of the outer surface 2350 may be maintained, even after the flattening plate 2000 has been removed.
Referring now to fig. 25, fluid (e.g., air) in the interior chamber 2502 of the first side portion 222 has been removed by fluid communication with a vacuum source (e.g., a vacuum pump). As previously described, this may result in flexible membrane 240 being tensioned against plurality of beads 250 such that the configuration of plurality of beads 250 and the corresponding geometry of outer surface 2350 may be fixed. In other words, a vacuum is used to create a substantially rigid outer surface 2350 that will tend to retain its shape after the platen plate 2000 has been removed. As seen in fig. 26, with the platen 2000 removed, the outer surface 2350 maintains a substantially flat shape.
The flexible manufacturing system may include provisions for aligning the items on the platform in a manner that minimizes calibration requirements. In some embodiments, the flexible manufacturing system may include a transparent display device that may be used to precisely align portions of the article relative to the printer to ensure that the graphics are printed in the desired locations.
Fig. 27 and 28 illustrate schematic diagrams of a flexible manufacturing system 100 in which a transparent display device is used to align the position and/or orientation of an article for printing. Referring to fig. 27 and 28, after the desired portion of the article 102 has been flattened in preparation for printing, the flattening plate 2000 may be removed from the plurality of mounting arms 160. At this time, the display device 2720 may be mounted on the plurality of mounting arms 160. In some implementations, display device 2720 may communicate with computing system 101 (see fig. 1) via a wired and/or wireless connection.
Display device 2720 may include an outer frame portion 2622 that houses a screen portion 2624. As seen in fig. 27 and 28, in some embodiments, screen portion 2624 is substantially transparent. This allows the viewer to see through screen portion 2624.
Display device 2720 may also be configured to display one or more images on screen portion 2624. In the current implementation, for example, display device 2720 receives information from computing system 101 (see FIG. 1) and displays graphic 2830 in a center portion of screen portion 2624. This may allow the user to see the graphic 2830 superimposed on the item 102 when the item 102 is viewed through the display device 2720. In particular, this arrangement allows graphics to be superimposed on, and thus registered on, a portion of the article in order to register the article for printing. The details of this method are discussed in more detail below.
Display device 2720 may be any type of device capable of displaying graphics and/or images. In general, display device 2720 may utilize any display technology capable of displaying images on a transparent or semi-transparent screen. Some embodiments may utilize head-up display (HUD) technology (which displays an image on a transparent screen using, for example, a CRT image on a fluorescent screen), optical waveguide technology, scanning lasers for displaying images on a transparent screen, and solid state technology such as LEDs. Examples of solid state technologies that may be used with display device 2720 include, but are not limited to, liquid crystal displays (LCoS), liquid crystal on silicon displays (LCoS), digital micro mirrors (DMD), and various types of light emitting diode displays (LEDs), such as Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs). The type of display technology used may be selected based on a variety of factors, such as display size, weight, cost, manufacturing limitations (e.g., space requirements), degree of transparency, and possibly other factors.
While some embodiments may use screens that are substantially transparent, other embodiments may use screens that are only partially transparent or translucent. The degree of transparency required may vary depending on manufacturing considerations, such as lighting conditions, manufacturing costs, and precise tolerances for alignment.
Fig. 29 and 30 illustrate an exemplary method for aligning an article with a printer using a display device 2720. For illustrative purposes, the item 102 is seen below the display device 2720 in isolation, however it will be understood that the item 102 may generally be held in place below the display device 2720 by the holding assembly 200. In the embodiment shown in fig. 29 and 30, display device 2720 may display graphic 2830 intended to be aligned with design element 110 of article 102. As previously discussed, design element 110 may be a logo or any other kind of design element that is integrated into upper 104. Aligning graphics 2830 on design element 110 ensures that article 102, and in particular the area surrounding design element 110, will be properly aligned with printing system 120.
As seen in fig. 29 and 30, the graphic 2830 may be generated by the computing system 101. In particular, the graphic 2830 may be substantially the same as the graphic 2850 displayed on the display 103 of the computing system 101.
Fig. 29 and 30 illustrate the relative positions of graphic 2830 and design element 110 before and after alignment, respectively. In some embodiments, to align graphic 2830 over a desired location of article 102, a user may move the position of holding assembly 200 and article 102 under display device 2720 to obtain the desired alignment between graphic 2830 and design element 110. Thus, for example, a user may slide the retention assembly 200 and the article 102 to a desired relative position, as seen in fig. 30, in order to obtain a desired alignment.
In other embodiments, the position of the graphic 2830 may be adjusted in order to obtain the desired alignment. In such embodiments, the location of the graphic 2830 on the display device 2720 may be changed by the user. In general, the location of the graphic 2830 may be changed using any desired technique, including, for example, touch screen technology. In other words, in some cases, the user may touch graphic 2830 on display device 2720 and slide graphic 2830 to a desired position for alignment with design element 110. In other embodiments, the user may adjust the relative position of the graphic 2830 on the display device 2720 using the computing system 101, a remote device, or any other method known for controlling the position of a graphic on a display.
Additional methods for aligning images on a display device with portions of an article and methods of calibrating a display device and a printing system are disclosed in the alignment and print cases and printer alignment cases using a remote device.
In some embodiments, once graphic 2830 has been registered on design element 110, the user may begin the process of printing onto an article using printing system 120. As seen in fig. 31, the user may select a desired graphic 3102 to be printed onto the article 102. In this example, graphic 3102 is a lightning ball that overlaps graphic 2830. Thus, the user may expect the printing system 120 to print the graphic 3102 directly onto the design element 110.
As seen in fig. 32 and 33, the present arrangement facilitates accurate printing by providing a substantially planar printing surface 3202 on lateral side portion 108 of upper 104. In particular, the flattened geometry of lateral side portion 108 achieved using retention assembly 200 is closer to the desired planar print area than the default curvilinear geometry of lateral side portion 108 represented by dashed curve 3240. Thus, as best seen in fig. 32 and 33, the flattening of outboard side portion 108 achieved using the arrangement discussed above allows a printer configured to print in substantially 2 dimensions to apply graphics to an article having a three-dimensional geometry.
As seen in fig. 34, the methods described herein may produce a printed pattern 3402 on the exterior side portion 108 of the article 102. While the current embodiment illustrates printing to the lateral side portion 108 of the article 102, a similar process may be used to print one or more graphics to the medial side portion of the article 102. Further, this method may be used to print graphics on any portion of the article 102, including the toe portion, midfoot portion, and/or heel portion of the article 102.
As seen in the figures, first side portion 222 of last portion 220 may be substantially deformable, while second side portion 224 may be substantially rigid. This may facilitate flattening of the outer side of the article disposed on the first side portion 222. Some embodiments may include a corresponding retention assembly configured to be used when flattening the inside face of the article.
Fig. 35 illustrates an embodiment utilizing a pair of respective retention assemblies 3500 and a respective article 3510. In this embodiment, the first retention assembly 3502 may be used to print onto the outer side 3512 of the article 3510. Likewise, second retention assembly 3504 may be used to print onto medial side 3514 of article 3510. In particular, first retaining assembly 3502 includes a last portion 3505, which last portion 3505 is oriented in a manner such that lateral side 3512 of article 3510 will face upward and toward the printing system when article 3510 is placed on last portion 3505. Similarly, second retention assembly 3504 includes a last portion 3503, which last portion 3503 is oriented in a manner such that medial side 3514 of article 3510 will face upward and toward the printing system when article 3510 is placed on last portion 3503.
The arrangement herein allows printing to both sides of the article by using a pair of corresponding retaining assemblies. It will be further appreciated that two retaining assemblies may be used to print to opposite sides of both the left and right articles of footwear.
As previously discussed, the retaining assembly may be configured for use with a plurality of different footwear sizes. In particular, the use of an adjustable heel assembly to accommodate different lengths of footwear and a last portion having a deformable outer surface allows the retaining assembly to fit a wide range of different footwear sizes.
Fig. 36 illustrates a schematic view of a retaining assembly 3600 configured to accommodate a variety of different footwear sizes. In this case, any of a plurality of article of footwear sizes 3610 may be accommodated by retaining assembly 3600 in order to retain and prepare the article for printing. In this example, ten different footwear sizes are shown, however additional footwear sizes may be accommodated with retaining assembly 3600. For example, in some embodiments, retaining assembly 3600 may be used with a range of footwear sizes, including all half step sizes between female shoe size 5 to female shoe size 11 and all half step sizes between male shoe size 6 to male shoe size 15. In other embodiments, the retaining assembly may be configured for use with any other range of footwear sizes, including American Men shoe sizes, American women's shoe sizes, various international shoe sizes, and child shoe sizes. For example, in one embodiment, a first retaining assembly may be configured for use with all U.S. male and female shoe sizes, while a second retaining assembly may be configured for use with all child shoe sizes.
Some embodiments may include additional provisions for adjusting the position and/or orientation of the article on the last portion. In another embodiment shown in fig. 37 and 38, a flattening plate 3700 may be configured with a strip member 3702, the strip member 3702 configured to contact sole structure 3720 of article 3722. As seen in fig. 38, strip member 3702 may contact sole structure 3720 when flattening plate 3700 is in position on article 3722. Further, strap member 3702 extends below lower surface 3704 of flattening plate 3700. With this arrangement, strip member 3702 may function to push sole structure 3720 downward and away from lower surface 3704. This may help increase the contact area between flattening plate 3700 and upper 3724 of article 3722. In some cases, the contact area may be further increased by expanding last portion 3730 within upper 3724.
As previously discussed, the flexible manufacturing system may include provisions for locking or otherwise temporarily securing the holding assembly in place after it has been placed on the platform in preparation for printing. Fig. 39 and 40 illustrate schematic views of various methods for locking the position of the retention assembly in place on the platform. Referring first to fig. 39, some embodiments may include a magnetic arrangement that helps lock the position of holding assembly 3900 in place on platform 3940. For example, in the embodiment of fig. 39, holding assembly 3900 may include first magnetic strip 3902 and second magnetic strip 3904 on bottom surface 3906 of base portion 3908. In embodiments where platform 3940 is sensitive to magnetic forces, first magnetic strip 3902 and second magnetic strip 3904 may help maintain retention assembly 3900 locked in a particular position on platform 3940. In other embodiments, one of the holding assembly or the respective platform may be configured with a magnetic paint.
Fig. 40 illustrates another embodiment in which the holding assembly 4000 is held in place using suction (i.e., vacuum). In particular, in this embodiment, the platform 4040 is configured with a plurality of vacuum holes 4042 that draw a vacuum. The vacuum may be used to pull the retaining assembly 4000 toward the platform 4040 and prevent the retaining assembly 4000 from moving horizontally along the platform 4040.
While various embodiments have been described, the description is intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting and it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of the embodiments. Accordingly, the embodiments are not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents. Furthermore, various modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the appended claims.

Claims (7)

1. A flexible manufacturing system for an article of footwear, comprising:
a printing system and a platform, wherein the relative position between the printing system and the platform is changeable;
a plurality of mounting arms associated with the platform;
a retaining assembly including a base portion and a last portion for retaining an article of footwear; and
a platen removably attached to the plurality of mounting arms;
wherein the platen applies a force to the holding assembly when the holding assembly is disposed on the platform.
2. The flexible manufacturing system according to claim 1, wherein the platen is configured to apply a force to an article of footwear disposed on the last portion of the retaining assembly.
3. The flexible manufacturing system according to claim 1, wherein the last portion includes a first side portion, a second side portion, and a bladder member disposed between the first side portion and the second side portion.
4. The flexible manufacturing system according to claim 3, wherein the bladder member is inflatable to separate the first side portion from the second side portion.
5. The flexible manufacturing system according to claim 3, wherein the first side portion comprises a moldable outer surface.
6. The flexible manufacturing system according to claim 5, wherein the shape of the moldable outer surface is capable of being temporarily locked in place.
7. The flexible manufacturing system according to claim 6, wherein the flattening plate is capable of flattening a portion of an article of footwear disposed between the flattening plate and the moldable outer surface of the last portion.
CN201710374430.3A 2013-04-23 2014-04-22 Retaining assembly for an article of footwear Active CN107048601B (en)

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US9402445B2 (en) 2016-08-02
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CN107048601A (en) 2017-08-18
US20140310891A1 (en) 2014-10-23
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CN105142451A (en) 2015-12-09
CN111543739A (en) 2020-08-18
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CN111543739B (en) 2021-11-02
US10070696B2 (en) 2018-09-11

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